Microseismic Monitoring of Stimulating Shale Gas Reservoir in SW China: 2. Spatial Clustering Controlled by the Preexisting Faults and Fractures
Microseismic monitoring is crucial to improving stimulation efficiency of hydraulic fracturing treatment, as well as to mitigating potential induced seismic hazard. We applied an improved matching and locating technique to the downhole microseismic data set during one treatment stage along a horizontal well within the Weiyuan shale gas play inside Sichuan Basin in SW China, resulting in 3,052 well‐located microseismic events. We employed this expanded catalog to investigate the spatiotemporal evolution of the microseismicity in order to constrain migration of the injected fluids and the associated dynamic processes. The microseismicity is generally characterized by two distinctly different clusters, both of which are highly correlated with the injection activity spatially and temporarily. The distant and well‐confined cluster (cluster A) is featured by relatively large‐magnitude events, with ~40 events of M −1 or greater, whereas the cluster in the immediate vicinity of the wellbore (cluster B) includes two apparent lineations of seismicity with a NE‐SW trending, consistent with the predominant orientation of natural fractures. We calculated the b‐value and D‐value, an index of fracture complexity, and found significant differences between the two seismicity clusters. Particularly, the distant cluster showed an extremely low b‐value (~0.47) and D‐value (~1.35). We speculate that the distant cluster is triggered by reactivation of a preexisting critically stressed fault, whereas the two lineations are induced by shear failures of optimally oriented natural fractures associated with fluid diffusion. In both cases, the spatially clustered microseismicity related to hydraulic stimulation is strongly controlled by the preexisting faults and fractures.